Calçotada Season In Full Swing
There are many, many reasons why I am in love with Andorra and the Pyrenees. Many of them are culinary I am not ashamed to admit and it is with no little glee that I am writing about the first Calçotada we have been to of the year.
To begin, I must explain what a Calçot is. Pronounced ‘Cal-sot’ it’s a kind of mixture between a leek and a spring onion, which is char-grilled over open coals and served up with a ‘Romesco’ sauce. The sauce is made with a tomato base and involves ground almonds, garlic and red peppers – delicious. The Calçots are served whole and burnt on big platters and guests are given a very handy apron and plastic gloves with which to strip the Calçots. And by strip, I mean literally grab the green leafy end with one hand, grasp the calçot with the other hand and pull off the first blackened layer to reveal the tender yumminess on the inside. Dip this part in the Romesco sauce and savour the delicious combo.
Usually, the Calçots are served as the second course. The first course is generally a soup, salad or something smaller, followed by the Calçots and then by the meat course. Being Welsh, I am a big BIG fan of lamb and naturally ordered this as my main course. I was not at all disappointed. I was served up 3 amazingly flavoursome lamb chops with 2 surprise sausages added to my plate – chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage) as well as baked potatoes and some token veg. All of this deliciousness was washed down with a very gluggable house red (a rioja if you’re wondering) followed by chupitos (small shots) of either a peach or a herbal liqueur. Topped off by coffee and a chocolate mousse. I basically rolled home – full as an egg.
‘And where did you go for this feast?’ I hear you cry! Well, calçots wouldn’t be calçots without our annual pilgrimage to Os de Civis. The OdC is a tiny wee village, about 150 inhabitants, high up in the Pyrenees mountains which is geographically very strange. Although it is situated in the Andorran part of the mountains and only accessible by road via Andorra, it is governed by Spain. This fact makes it a ‘pene-exclave’ which according to wikipedia is “a part of the territory of one country that can be approached conveniently — in particular by wheeled traffic — only through the territory of another country”. So, we had a day trip to Spain for lunch. There are 2 places that offer Calçotadas on the OdC – we have eaten at both, but I would say that my favourite by far was the Os de Civis hotel. We had a table right next to an enormous window overlooking the valley with stunning views. The food was great, the service friendly and prompt. Friendly enough to tip – which if you’re familiar with service in these parts is for sure saying something!
If you are looking to enjoy some calcçots while here in Andorra then you will be spoilt for choice. One tip though, call and book in advance, many restaurants will only offer the calçots menu with advance warning as they do take some preparation. Prepare yourself for a mountain of food and a very unique dining experience!
If you fancy a scenic drive then head to Hotel Os de Civis – http://www.hotelosdecivis.com/